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GEO Cold Regions Inititiative - GEOCRI

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What is GEO Cold Regions?

GEO Cold Regions Initiative (GEOCRI) coordinates global joint efforts for Earth observations and information services to provide societal benefits over the world's Cold Regions area including the North Pole, South Pole, Himalaya-Third Pole and Mountain areas.

Vision and importance

“What happens in the Poles doesn’t stay in the Poles.” More than one hundred countries around the world have cryospheric elements in their environment. Cold Regions are the most ecologically and environmentally sensitive areas, and changes to these areas comprehensively affect the dynamic Earth system, impacting the society in all parts of the world.

GEO is developing a user-driven approach to Cold Regions that will complement the current science-driven effort, and a global, comprehensive Cold Regions Information Service will strengthen the synergies among various activities across global Cold Regions.

Benefits and added-value

GEOCRI offers a global interface and platform for collaboration for existing organizations and programs, allowing them to reach communities outside their own membership domains and create synergies among different activities, which expands the outreach of, and maximize the synergies among, thematically wide GEO activities and thematically deep participant activities.

A broad range of users from both the public and private sectors, including managers and policy makers in the targeted societal benefit areas, scientific researchers and engineers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and international bodies are benefitting from the improved Cold Regions Information Services.

Organization & Contacts

GEOCRI Management Structure

GEOCRI milestones and deliverables table

The GEOCRI community consists of contributors that are arranged into theme-specific Task Teams according to their interests. Each Task Team has a list of activities that they work on, and report their progress to the team of co-leads, consisting of nine GEOCRI members and the Point of Contact. The co-lead team works together in producing the Work Plan and the Implementation Plan for the GEO Work Programme, with the assistance from GEO Secretariat, and offer over all coordination of GEOCRI activities and efforts.

Task Teams convene when necessary, whereas the co-lead team convenes at least twice a year. All GEOCRI members are kept informed about the progress via summaries provided through an e-mailing list and by arranging face-to-face meeting where possible (e.g. as side events to GEO meetings and at major scientific conferences).

All GEOCRI contributors have a possibility to contribute to the work and implementation plans, and take part in those Task Teams where they find their contribution is most suitable. In addition, an institution or organization can join GEOCRI as an Observer, which means that they will be updated about the progress and activities, without not directly taking part in the activities.

Terms of Reference (ToR) will be developed in 2017 to verify the management and coordination structure of GEOCRI. All the management activities need to follow up the Term of Reference, which will be changed in two year, at the face to face meeting.

Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)


Hierarchical structure of the activities organized by GEOCRI

graph of hierarchical structure of the activities organized by GEOCRI

The activities conducted in GEOCRI are grouped into six thematically overarching Tasks:

Task 1. Infrastructures (Task Team: Hannele Savela, Jeff Key, Vito Vitale, Angelo Viola, Stefano Nativi)

  • A1.1 Create dialogue between infrastructure networks for collaboration and more efficient use of infrastructures. M1.1a: Cold regions related infrastructure networks and projects invited to GEOCRI (III2017), M1.1b: Meeting arranged to facilitate collaboration (III2018), D1.1: Minutes of the meeting (IV2018)
  • A1.2 Advocate and support incorporation of different research infrastructure catalogues on cold regions (e.g. INTERACT, Eu-PolarNet, UArctic). M1.2a: Cold regions related infrastructure catalogue hosts contacted (III2017) M1.2b: Training/webinar for technical support (III2018) D1.2: Summary of the development (XII2019)
  • A1.3 Interoperability of GEOCRI with the GCI (resources registration and brokering, Community portal development, etc.). D1.3 (XII2019)
  • A1.4 Promote a dialogue to realize connection along longitudinal/latitudinal  transect on specific items (e.g. tall towers for ABL, flux measurements). M1.4 (VI2019)
  • A1.5 Consolidating operational users' needs and information gaps to support development of future Arctic infrastructure (e.g. ESA Polaris and EU PolarNet). M1.5: Analysis of  existing and ongoing consultations on user needs and information gaps (III2018). D1.5: Summary of the identified needs and gaps and action plan of the support process (III2019)

Task 2. Monitoring Network and Data (Task Team: Jeff Key, Yubao Qiu, Julie Friddell, Peter Pulsifer, Tom Barry, Hiroyuki Enomoto, Massimo Menenti, Weicai Wang, Carolina Gabarró, Emilia Garcia Ladona, Tao Che, Rui Jin, Youhua Ran)

  • A2.1 Identify and document needs and requirements for cold region Earth observation data and information for all users. Make regular updates as needs and requirements change and emerge. Coordinate user requirements with WMO and its Rolling Review of Requirements (RRR) mechanism. M2.1: Analysis of  existing and ongoing consultations on user needs (XII 2017). D2.1: Summary of the identified needs and requirements and action plan. XII2018). 
  • A2.2 Start to define specific GEOCRI essential variables (e.g. Sea Ice…) and non-specific essential variables (valid and necessary for any region or domain). A way to start is to propose adopting many of the variables defined in the Climate domain (ECV’s). Work with ECVs, EBVs. M2.2: document articulate the variable for cold regions.(VI2018), D2.2: variable table IX2019.
  • A2.3 Incorporate cold region databases, such as the Arctic Data archive System (ADS), the SAON data inventory and ICIMOD’s Regional Database System, the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service, and the Italian Arctic Data Centre (IADC) into the GCI. M2.3: Institutions hosting Cold region databases identified and contacted (XII 2017). D2.3: List of Cold Region database holders + promotional material (XII 2017).
  • 2.5 Engage with Arctic Portal to explore potential for registering datasets hosted on their websites with GCI. CCIN/ PDC. M2.5: Arctic Portal contacted for discussions (VI2017).
  • 2.6 Support GCW in the development and expansion of CryoNet, identifying best practices for observations, sharing open data principles and capacity development activities. Allow for discovery of CryoNet through GCW Data Portal. Incorporate CryoNet data into GCI. M2.6: Discussions initiated with GCW and possibilities for supported activities and related actions identified (VI2017).
  • 2.7 Support ICIMOD in developing a HimalyanGEOSS, sharing GEO’s broad open data principles and capacity building expertise, and register Himalayan observations into the GCI. Connect other initiatives, such as TPE, WMO/GCW, PEEX, and WCRP/CliC to maximize the effectiveness and scope of the Himalaya GEOSS. M2.7 : ICIMOD contacted for discussions (III2017), D2.7: Jointly produced action plan for possible collaboration and related activities (IX2017).
  • 2.8 Analyze and report on alignment between GEO/GEOCRI data principles and policies and the data principles and policies established by  SCAR, IASC and SAON. M2.8: Analysis completed (III 2018), D2.8: Report on the alignments in the data principles (XII 2018).
  • 2.9 Support the Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) initiative to broker the related activities with the big data platform along the Belt and Road region. M2.9: Create the interface with DBAR.(III2017), D2.9: Developmetn report (III2018).

Task 3. Integrating in situ and Remote Sensing Observations (Task Team: Hannele Savela, Yubao Qiu, Jeff Key, Emilio Garcia Ladona, Massimo Menenti, Vito Vitale, Eugenio Sansosti, Weicai Wang, SAON, Tao Che, Rui Jin, Youhua Ran)

  • A3.1 Establish a forum for meeting and dialogue to encourage links and collaboration of cold regions in situ and remote sensing communities. M3.1a: Relevant community members identified and contacted. (IX2017), M3.1b: Joint meeting or webinar arranged (III2019), D3.1a: Meeting minutes (IV2019), D3.1b: Joint publication (XII2019)
  • A3.2 Develop a set of Cold Region Sensitive Indicators and ECRVs, based on the excise of ECVs and EBVs, to provide the most needed observations parameter over Earth cold regions. M3.2: Relevant community members identified and contacted. (IX2017), D3.1a: List of the variables or indicators for Earth cold regions, D3.2b: Joint Publications (XII2019)

Task 4. User Engagement and Communication (Task Team: Co-leads, Jan Rene Larsen, Hannele Savela, Courtney Price, Yubao Qiu)

  • A4.1 Establish a science advisory group within GEOCRI to ensure awareness of science priorities established by such efforts as the SCAR Horizon Scan and the IASC ICARP III, and to identify any gaps based on the work of GEOCRI. M4.1: Potential Science Advisory Group members invited (I2017). D4.1: Science Advisory group established and convened first time (VI2017).
  • A4.2 Maintain regular communications with all GEOCRI participants, GEO secretariat and other members of GEO community with updates on activities. Help to forge synergies and collaborations between GEOCRI. M4.2: GEOCRI meetings (on-line or physical (XII2017-2019), D4.2: Minutes of the meetings (XII2017-2019).
  • A4.3 Engage with current non-GEO member cold region countries to explore potential for membership – notably Bhutan, Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and others. Engage existing members and participating organizations to participate in GEOCRI activities more actively. M4.3: Country representatives and potential new contributors contacted to initiate discussions (VI2017).
  • A4.4 Look to engage new organizations working in cold regions with GEOCRI and GEO. M4.4: Campaign to invite new contributors to GEOCRI conducted (VI2017), D4.4: Promotional material (XII2019).
  • A4.5 Liaise with other GEO activities to find potential synergies and map potential overlaps with them. M4.5a: Related GEO activities contacted for discussions (XII2017). M4.5b: Potential synergies and overlaps identified (VI2019). M4.5c: Map of potential synergies and overlaps with an action plan of possible collaboration (XII2019).
  • A4.6 Promote and advocate the use of coordinated, comprehensive and sustained cold region Earth observations to inform decisions and actions by policy makers, industry, local communities, researchers and others. M4.6: Participation with presentation(s) to joint forums with different stakeholders (ongoing 2017-2019), D4.6: Presentations, abstracts, statements, white papers.
  • A4.7 Advocate defining of cold regions earth observations essential variables (EVs) to more effectively meet the cold region Earth observation needs and requirements of users. M4.7a: Key actors for defining the cold region key variables identified (XII2017), M4.7b: Key actors contacted for discussions (III2018), D4.7: Work plan for defining the cold regions earth observations essential variables (XII2018).
  • A4.8 Develop GEOCRI logo and visual branding. Push for GEOCRI, GEO and GEOSS to feature in cold region Earth observation relevant reports and documents where appropriate. M4.8: GEOCRI logo and visual branding developed (XII2017), D4.8a: Logo (XII2017), D4.8b: Visual image instructions (XII2017).
  • A4.9 Leverage GEO’s international standing and reputation to help secure a mandate from the highest government levels for fully integrated observing systems for cold regions. This mandate must not only be from cold region countries, but fully international due to the global significance and interest in cold regions. M4.9 (XII2019)
  • A4.10 Coordination input from the ocean monitoring communities, including several larger ongoing efforts were suggested to be engaged. M4.10: Connect with EuroGOOS, CMEMS, Copernicus Climate services, JPI Climate services, ESA, CCI , EumetSat Satellite Application Facilities (VI2018).

Task 5. Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer (Task Team: Hannele Savela, Peter Pulsifer, Julie Friddell, Weicai Wang, Massimo Menenti, other Co-leads)

  • A5.1 Increase awareness of possibilities related to GEOCRI, GCI and GEOSS Data-CORE. M5.1: Ongoing process 2017-2019.D5.1: Promotional material, e-mail campaigns etc. in 2017-2019.
  • A5.2 Arrange practical training on incorporating data to GCI and GEOSS Data-CORE. M5.2a-c, D5.2a-c: Webinar training on how to tag data to GEOSS Data-CORE and/or register it to GCI (XII2017, XII2018, XII2019).
  • A5.3 Arrange training to build capacity and educate new generation of researches on cold regions (e.g. via UArctic network and APECS). M5.3: UArctic and APECS contacted and invited to collaborate (III2017). D5.3: Plan on possible jointly arranged training (IX2017).

Task 6. Management and Monitoring (Task Team: Jeff Key, Hannele Savela, SAON, JAMSTEC, Hiroyuki Enomoto , Tom Barry, Julie Friddel, Vito Vitale, Weicai Wang, Yubao Qiu)

  • A6.1 Support SAON to develop and maintain an inventory of existing cold region Earth observations initiatives including organizations, programs, projects, networks and systems, particularly those which are active or have impact internationally and regionally. M6.1 : Existing cold region Earth observations initiatives identified (XII2019). D6.1: List of existing cold region EO initiatives  (XII 2019).
  • A6.2 Leverage GEO’s international position to align other initiatives with Arctic Observing System efforts and SAON where this is not already the case, including WMO (EC-PHORS, GCW, PRCC, WWRP etc.) WCRP (CliC), PPP/YOPP, INTERACT, EU-PolarNet and the successful candidate for the H2020 topics BG-09 and BG-10 in 2016 and BG-11 in 2017.  M6.2: Discussions initiated with SAON (III2017), D6.2: Plan of support activities to SAON (XII2017).
  • A6.3 Support SAON as the lead organization in establishing an Arctic Observing System. Support their existing efforts, share expertise. Explore the case for establishing SAON as a Regional GEO (i.e. GEO / Arctic) that would contribute to GEOCRI. M6.3: XII2019
  • A6.4 Engage with GEOBON and CAFF/CBMP, to support the development of ArcticBON (with GEOBON) and integrate it as the biodiversity component of the Arctic Observing System. M6.4, D6.4: Start discussions with relevant representatives and initiatives for possible collaboration (III2017)
  • A6.5 Support AmeriGEOSS in developing observing systems for mountain regions in the Americas, including the Andes and Rockies, as well as North American Arctic and South American sub-Antarctic. Engage with other initiatives such as WMO/GCW, WCRP/CliC and others to collaborate and maximize the effectiveness and scope of cold region components of the AmeriGEOSS. M6.5: AmeriGEOSS contacted for discussions (VI2017), D6.5: Minutes of the meeting(s).
  • A6.6 Support observing system networks, including WMO/EC-PHORS in developing, expanding and sustaining the terrestrial Antarctic Observing Network (AntON), and SCAR/SCOR with the interdisciplinary Southern Ocean Observing System as well as support the development of new observing systems such as SCAR's AntOS, working with key regional actors such as SCAR, SOOS, WCRP/CliC, WMO/GCW, PPP/YOPP, COMNAP etc. and research institutions active in the Antarctic (AAD, AARI, AntarcticaNZ, AWI, BAS, BAI, CSIC, USAP, etc.). M6.6: Discussions initiated with Antarctic observing system netowks key actors (XII2018), D6.6: Summary of key support actions during the GEO Work Program 2017-2019 (XII2019).
  • A6.7 Engage with existing observing networks in cold regions, such as GTN-P, GLISN, GLMS, GCW, SIOS, etc. and emerging cold region regional observation networks to contribute to GEOCRI. Promote incorporation of data from these networks to GCI. M6.7a: Existing networks contacted and invited (III2018), M6.7b: Emerging networks contacted (XII2017-VI2019) , D6.7: Face-to-face or on-line meetings and their minutes.
  • 6.8 The co-lead group to set up the management system for the GEOCRI, the ToR, and inviting an advisory board for GEOCRI. M6.8: propose a management system (XII2017), D6.8: ToR and scientific Advisory Board (2017,GEO XIII).

Milestones and Deliverables

GEOCRI milestones and deliverables table

Documents & Publications

GEOCRI Work Plan 2017-2019


Upcoming events


Past events



13 Oct - 15 Oct 2017
Arctic Circle Assembly: Joint breakout session of GEO, SAON, EPB, WMO, ICC on Scales of Observations –Connecting Arctic data, information and people (TBC)
Reykjavik, Iceland

6 Apr 2017
GEO Cold Regions Initiative Meeting
ASSW2017, Prague, Czech Republic

3 Mar 2017
2017 International Workshop on Observations and Understanding of Changes in High Mountain and Cold Regions (HiMAC 2017)
Beijing, China


Tibetan plateau, photo: Yubao Qiu
Tibetan plateau, photo: Yubao Qiu
Tibetan plateau, photo: Yubao Qiu
Tibetan plateau, photo: Yubao Qiu



The side meeting focused on some of the most recent developments in the GEO Cold Regions Initiative and was held on 19th June during the Polar2018 in Davos, Switzerland.

In the meeting, Hannele Savela from INTERACT/University of Oulu provided a general introduction to the GEO and GEOCRI activities. Continuing from there, Peter Pulsifer from the SAON ADC/University of Colorado provided an update on the recent Polar Data Planning efforts and the GEOCRI Community Portal development. After that, the meeting focused on the concept of Essential Variables and their potential to achieve societal benefits. First, Gregory Giuliani from University of Geneva provided an introductory presentation about the issues related to the development of Essential Variables. This was followed by a presentation by Yubao Qiu from RADI CAS, who told about the latest developments in the Essential Cold Regions Variables in the GEOCRI framework. The meeting was open to all POLAR2018 Open Science Congress participants and gathered many attendants for lively discussion and knowledge exchange.

Meeting programme and presentations:


GEOCRI represented at IGARSS 2017

GEOCRI was presented at the IGARSS2017 meeting with Paper #2779: GROUP ON EARTH OBSERVATIONS COLD REGIONS INITIATIVE (GEOCRI): AN INFORMATION SERVICE FOR COLD REGIONS. A presentation on the paper was given by Dr Yubao Qiu from RADI-CAS. Learn more about IGARSS 2017.


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